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Alexander, Frederick Matthias (1869 - 1955)

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Educator and Therapist
Born: 20 January 1869  Table Cape, Tasmania, Australia.  Died: 10 October 1955  London, England.
Frederick Matthias Alexander, initially trained as an actor, developed the 'Alexander Technique' in the early 1900s to solve the vocal problems that continually hindered his stage career. This Alexander technique is now used by many people around the world to rid of their bodies of tension and stress. Alexander never obtained any formal medical or scientific training.

Career Highlights
With a strong love of the theatre and Shakespeare, Frederick Matthias Alexander left his Tasmanian mining job to take up acting lessons in Melbourne. It was here he learnt the importance of controlled breathing, proper posture and voice projection. Alexander spent a few years in New Zealand in the early 1890ís improving his skills and further developing his belief that correct posture was the key to maintaining top physical, emotional and spiritual health. He returned to Melbourne in 1894 to teach stage skills as well as his posture theories and moved to Sydney in 1899. As his beliefs were gaining support in Australia, Alexander moved to London (1904) to reach a wider audience. In 1910 he produced his first major publication "Manís Supreme inheritance" which outlined what is now known as the Alexander technique. Alexanderís reputation grew and soon he had many pupils, often famous ones including Aldous Huxley and George Bernard Shaw, in Europe and in the United States of America. When World War II broke out Frederick Alexander moved his school to Massachusetts and continued to teach and write books on the subject even as its popularity began to diminish slightly. Alexanderís achievements were praised by the 1973 Nobel Prize (Physiology/Medicine) winner, Professor Tinbergen as "one of the true epics of medical research and practice".

Chronology
c. 1885Clerk at the Mount Bischoff mine in Waratah, Tasmania
c. 1890Brother Albert Redden began assisting in the technique
c. 1890Moved to Melbourne to study acting
c. 1892Moved to New Zealand and mainly stayed in Aukland
1894Returned to Melbourne to teach stage skills and breathing and voice techniques
1899 - 1904Worked in Sydney
1910Man's Supreme Inheritance which introduced what is now called the Alexander Technique was published in London
1914 - Began teaching the 'Alexander Technique' in the USA
1920Married Edith Mary Parsons Young

 
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Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields.Prepared by: McCarthy, G.J & Annette Alafaci
Created: 20 October 1993
Modified: 29 January 2007

Published by The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre on ASAPWeb, 1994 - 2007
Originally published 1994-1999 by Australian Science Archives Project, 1999-2006 by the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre
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Updated: 26 February 2007
http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/biogs/P000993b.htm

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